I have owned quite a few Sony E mount mirrorless cameras in my digital gear churn odyssey. Been through quite a few other brands also. Fujifilm,

Fuji La


Panasonic G7


Co-Op City, The Bronx


Shots from the day.


Fire Trucks


Duke Gardens - Samsung NX30


Leica Q

and Pentax.

Pentax K-1

Even more brands if you count film. Other than less common digital camera brands like Sigma and upper elite medium format cameras like Phase One I think I have tried every digital brand still in business. Olympus was the IL digital jump-off point for me and I have made a few rounds there. Loved the D3300, but Nikon lost me with their prohibitively expensive DSLR feature upgrade path. Thought Fuji was going to do it for me and they came close. Kept coming back to Pentax due to legacy and value but they did not win out either. Samsung just flat out bailed on me.

Ultimately kept coming back to Sony and that is where I have landed today. Anything can happen, but I think I am done. Liked the RX100 II and III.

Pan Pan Diner, Durham

Great cameras, but not up my alley. Have gone three rounds with the APS-C a6000 and I have one still had one until very recently (Sold not long after picking this up.). (Nevermind this Have picked up an a6100 and an a6000 since writing this.) They messed up making such a capable camera first time out. Love it’s feature/value mix so much I will not likely upgrade to newer crop iterations.

Friday Night Lights

Full frame have owned an A7, A7II, A7RII, and I am currently smitten with the A7III. So capable that, like the a6000, I have not looked for another body… Until now. But not as replacement. Looking for a second full-frame A7 body. Spent many an hour stuck in analysis paralysis trying to decide between wants and needs feature-wise. I have given away which one I chose in the title. Before I say more on that I will go over the ones I did not choose.

First-gen A7 (Base/R/S).

  • The draw.
    • Great value and image quality.
Random Shots
  • Why not?
    • I appreciate what Sony started here, but I must admit that the first-gen bodies were not quite done yet. Slow focusing and lack of IBIS are the main shortcomings that took these out of consideration. Was great for manual focusing with vintage and interesting lenses like the Mitakon 50mm f/0.95 used in the sample shot above.

The R bodies.

  • The draw.
    • 36 to 42 to 61 glorious MP.
Sony A7Rii
  • Why not?
    • R II
      • Previously traded a perfectly good 24MP A7II for a 42MP A7RII. Thought I needed that extra detail for group shots and potential post cropping. But I soon after realized/remembered that my use case does not require this extra detail since I do not make big enlargements and I do not tend to crop much. The event I shot in the example shot of the couple above was the first event I shot with the A7RII. Great results, but I did not crop any shots and the difference in post processing workflow speed and memory requirements was very noticeable. 24MP would have served me just fine.
    • R III
      • More than I wanted to spend and shared the R II high MP count that was not necessary for me.
    • R IV
      • Amazing specs, but even more expensive and more MP.
      • After a gear sell-off I almost sprang for a GFX 50R recently, but chose to get high-end glass for my existing system instead once I calmed down and realized I did not need 50MP any more than 42MP and did not want to go back to diverse mounts/lenses again. But if I ever get tempted by the high MP siren song again this will be the first camera on my list.

The A7S Bodies.

  • The draw.
    • Low light and video capabilities.
  • Why not?
    • A7 III does just fine with low light and video.
    • 24MP is preferred to 12.
    • Quite expensive new or used.


  • The draw.
    • Great appreciation for the one I have.
Samurai Armor Portrait Booth - Triangle JapanFest 2019
  • Why not?
    • Already have it.
    • Can give up some features to save a few dollars.

Back to the A7 II.

I’ll get the minuses out of the way first.

  • One card slot.
    • I understand why it is for others, but this is not a big deal for me. Most of the cameras I have owned had only 1 card slot.
    • Definitely no issue as a second body.
  • Build.
    • Gen III was a massive step forward in build quality and feel as shown in this gallery.
    • But Gen II is far better than Gen I and quite acceptable.
  • Battery life.
    • Bought a $79 grip that holds 2 batteries and a free battery came with the camera kit I purchased (free bag and SD card also).

Why the A7 II then?

  • Value.
  • Features.
    • Eye AF.
    • Focus accuracy and speed far superior to the A7.
    • IBIS, which the A7 does not have.
  • Image Quality.
    • Great colors and detail.
  • Light.
    • Not a huge difference, but enough to notice.
  • Less precious.
    • While a fantastic bargain feature set wise, the A7 III is not what one could call cheap either. Also, it is my primary camera so heavy daily use is not wise generally speaking. A nearly as capable second fiddle suits me just fine.

What about the competition? Already invested in the Sony lens system, but what if I was starting over from scratch?

While it falters a bit ergonomically, when focusing on specs alone the A7 II stacks up surprisingly well against the newer wave of entry-level full-frame mirrorless cameras.

Canon EOS RP

  • The A7II is basically an A7III with slower FPS, fewer focus points, no silent mode, limited battery life, and one card slot… which are shortcomings similar to the Canon EOS RP. Tempted by the price I tried and enjoyed the RP for awhile as a second camera, but the only native lens that was priced in my range was the excellent 35mm f/1.8 STM. In isolation that was an excellent set up. But I quickly sold it when the A7II went on sale for considerably less to gain IBIS and access to the lenses I already had on a second body.
  • Additionally the RP lacks IBIS which is a main A7II selling point for me.
  • Limited lens selection is inevitable with a relatively new system. 

Nikon Z6

  • On specs alone the A7II compares well to the even more expensive Z6 for my purposes.
  • Similarly the Z6 does has IBIS, but also has only 1 card slot.
  • Limited lens selection is inevitable with a relatively new system.

Panasonic S1

  • The much more Panasonic S1 does have two card slots, IBIS, and good battery life on its side.
  • But unlike the rest of the full-frame mirrorless crop, it does not have phase-detect AF which is a dealbreaker for me. Despite Panasonic’s best efforts to address the shortcomings of contrast only AF with advanced software reviews seem to confirm that this does not keep up with phase-detect AF.
  • Limited lens selection is inevitable with a relatively new system.

Looking forward to spending more time with the A7 II. Already know what it will do. Here are A7II shots taken as a second camera behind the A7III during a wedding shoot.

Kauffmann Wedding Shoot - The Wedding
Kauffmann Wedding Shoot - The Wedding
Kauffmann Wedding Shoot - The Wedding
Kauffmann Wedding Shoot - The Wedding
Kauffmann Wedding Shoot - The Wedding
Kauffmann Wedding - The Reception
Kauffmann Wedding - The Reception
Kauffmann Wedding - The Reception

Below are sample shots from the first go around and here is the full gallery.

Marching Band Competition - Moon
100 Men In Black
VW Bus
Sony FE 85mm f/1.8
Sony FE 85mm f/1.8

38 Replies to “Revisiting the Sony A7II in 2020.”

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